What is a good definition of a low quality answer?

While some things are clearly low quality (answers in another language for example), and others have bad grammar (I thought these were OK), where should the line be drawn?

Is there a good rule of thumb that should be applied?

I am asking because of the auto flagging that happens (visible in 10K+ tools).

2 Answers 2


This meta post sums up what flags an answer as low-quality.

Beyond the length test -- which is HUGELY important -- there are a bunch of other factors we can use to calculate a "bad answer weight", again, based on me personally browsing through hundreds of bad answers by new users and identifying patterns I observed:

Word checks

  • contains word "help"
  • contains word "test" or "testing"
  • contains word "thanks", "thx", "cheers", "great"
  • contains word "bump"
  • contains word "same", "problem"
  • contains word "sorry"
  • contains word "work", "working"
  • contains ":)" or ":-)" or ":(" or ":-("

Character set checks

  • contains one or more exclamation points
  • contains one or more question marks
  • contains all (or mostly) uppercase characters
  • contains all lowercase characters
  • does not contain any spaces
  • does not contain any ascii chars
  • contains .., possibly repeated

Content checks

  • includes hyperlink type text (even without the http://)
  • includes email address
  • content ends in question mark
  • answers with low entropy, eg, repeated characters like "asdfasdfasdfjkjkjk"

These would all be rolled up into an aggregate answer score, which represents a confidence threshold for every new answer by a new user.

IMO general rule of thumb should be

  • Is it comprehensible?
  • Can it be edited into something comprehensible and answers the question?
  • Is it worth spending that time?

If no to most of the above points, I consider that to be low quality.


Well, I believe its primarily length.

Non english answers are fixable (Its a pain in the butt in many cases tho), as is bad grammar. The best rules of thumb are "Does this answer the question" and "Can i fix this?" first, and whether it fits into a flagging category

We did have issues with a certain group of users copypasting googled up answers with no attribution or checking (so we had bits of regional slang not from their area sometimes). In such cases, commenting a posting a better answer if none, is probably best.

  • Does fixable imply that it should be fixed, or in some cases, they should be let go anyway?
    – soandos
    Jun 27, 2012 at 0:29
  • Well, fixable implies the content has redeeming value of some sort, and can be whipped into shape somehow. Its hugely subjective, of course. Even an answer posted entirely in russian turned out pretty good once someone beat me to running it through google translate. Me Toos, and rambles need to be taken out back and shot tho.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jun 27, 2012 at 0:32
  • How about link only?
    – soandos
    Jun 27, 2012 at 0:33
  • Grey Area, i suppose. Current unofficial site policy is to comment to that effect, and optionally fix it up.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jun 27, 2012 at 0:34
  • I am inclined to believe that in most cases (especially on only posts) this is useless (and there is no followup in any case)
    – soandos
    Jun 27, 2012 at 0:37

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